2017 is proving to be a great year at Walker Upper Elementary! Students involved with Stage Left Theatre gave a fabulous final production of the play Beauty and the Beast on January 24, while numerous STEM activities – including experiments with water filtration, simulated boat travel up the James River, and projects using coordinate planes and virtual reality demonstrations – have all been happening throughout the months of January and February. Meanwhile, in the classrooms, students recreated the setting of the 1998 novel ‘Among the Hidden’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
As you know, we are developing the strategic plan that will guide our Charlottesville schools through the year 2023. So far, we have gotten a great response from students, staff, and parents — and we want to hear from you, too.
Three opportunities are available for staff and parents:
A community-wide listening session will be held this Wednesday (1/25) at CHS at 7pm. Join us!
An online survey is another way you can share your feedback and ideas.
Thanks to the school division’s new iSTEM program, fifth-graders at Walker School designed, built, and tested boats for a journey up the “James River” in a classroom simulation. In addition to the STEM skills, the project incorporated history and language arts skills. Similarly, third-graders across the division designed and built garden structures to protect the schools’ lettuce from winter, among other projects. You can catch a broader glimpse of the work of this new iSTEM program at STEM nights hosted by the elementary schools this winter.
Burnley-Moran students have been writing letters to (and receiving correspondence from) senior-citizen pen pals throughout the year. This month, they’re going to meet each other face-to-face!
Clark Elementary organized a “community helper day” for its kindergartners, inviting special guests including their own award-winning crossing guard Ms. Ruth Hill. Other guests are future and current community helpers from CATEC, with high school students representing fields such as firefighting, dental, and medical care.
CHS eleventh-grade English classes took advantage of performances of The Grapes of Wrath at the Paramount Theater offered by the National Players. Thanks to the theater, the actors visited CHS to offer related workshops with English and drama classes. Similarly, a number of our elementary school students were able to hear the Richmond Symphony accompany a screening of The Snowman, also at the Paramount.
Buford students will soon be watching Hidden Figures, a powerful reminder that each of us can use our talents to impact our world.
Our partnership with City Schoolyard Garden offers hands-on learning across the curriculum. Students, staff, and parents are pleased with these ongoing activities and are glad to see expansions, including the green roof project on the new garden shed at Greenbrier.
The CHS science club BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) offers a model for how students can take ownership of their learning. Students pick the projects they wish to focus on and work independently on their goals. As adviser Dr. Matt Shields notes, “It’s about as far away as you can get from ‘My dad did my science fair project.'” For a fifth straight year, the students working on the Zero Robotics team qualified for the international finals in the programming competition sponsored by NASA and MIT. Good luck at the finals, BACON!
Students at CATEC also offer a model of charting their own path and exploring possible careers ranging from health care to culinary arts. New this year is the program’s partnership with tech giant CISCO, offering industry-recognized certifications in IT. CATEC recently hosted the regional competition for Skills USA, showing the range of the program’s offerings. CHS students Luis Becerra-Vargas and Ed Pollock, respectively, earned 2nd and 3rd in Culinary Arts at the competition. Congratulations!
Even younger students can take ownership of their learning. This year, thanks to a grant from the Shannon Foundation, Venable students will lead their own parent-teacher conferences. Using portfolios of their own work, students will reflect on their growth and learning as well as articulate their goals for the future.
While students in all curriculum areas offered specific examples of ways their teachers offer choice and independence, Buford and CHS students enrolled in engineering classes say that choice and independence are at the heart of these classes. Students are given structured expectations about what they will learn and what projects will guide them through the curriculum, but on a daily basis, students work independently and with peers to accomplish these goals.
Across our elementary schools, classrooms and even whole schools host periodic or daily “morning meetings” to celebrate successes, define goals, and build community.
This year’s new Link Crew program at CHS has connected upper-class mentors with ninth-graders to help younger students make a good transition, establish connections, and have fun.
More than wins and losses, athletics is about character. At a recent basketball game, CHS recently honored graduate Rashard Davis, who just helped the JMU football team earn a national championship. Davis is known for his work ethic, values, character — and setting college conference records. Similarly, girls’ basketball coach Jim Daly recently tweeted, “Our leading scorer from last night [Daeja Wade] was back in the gym by 9am to coach a 1st/2nd grade basketball team — nice reminder of what a great group of girls we have!”
Walker students recently worked on some jigsaw puzzles while blindfolded! The challenge — completed with a little help from some friends — was organized by the schools’ counselors, who organize monthly lessons to build connections, character, and culture.
Jackson-Via recently earned a grant from Charlottesville’s “Sister Cities Commission” to support the school’s Harry-Potter-like “house” system. Connected to Charlottesville’s sister cities in Africa, Bulgaria, France, and Italy, the “houses” are student groups designed to build both interpersonal and international connections.
Wellness and nutrition have also received attention in the focus groups. While Charlottesville has won national awards for its commitments to healthy activity, local foods, and more, there is always room for improvement. New nutrition coordinator has met with a feedback group of Walker students, and a parent group focusing on fresh and healthy school meals has also been formed. Find the group on Facebook here!
Lugo-McGinness Academy, the school division’s alternative school for students in grades 7-12, is leading the way for us to reexamine school culture and discipline, focusing on relationships, student growth, and self-awareness.
Teachers at all levels incorporate learning games into their curriculum using hands-on items like dice or internet game-show-like tools like “Kahoot.”
Perhaps the model of “purposeful play” comes from kindergarten, including Johnson students recently choosing from a range of centers to explore “community helpers” — opting to play with a hospital-themed doll set, a child’s construction work table, dress-up stations, and more.
A recent pep rally at CHS marked the semester’s end with laughs and games such as life-sized “Hungry, Hungry, Hippos.”
When possible, students prefer an atmosphere of “fun but serious.” One example they offered is their fine arts classes where it is fun to sing or draw or play an instrument, but the atmosphere is still marked by work and accomplishment.
Recess remains a priority for students, teachers, parents, and child-development experts, especially when recess is augmented by regular “get the wiggles out” activities such as brain breaks, mini-dance parties, “Fun Fridays,” and other times for unstructured activities.
At their January meeting, the Board elected Juan Wade and Sherry Kraft as chair and vice-chair, respectively. The Board expressed its appreciation to outgoing chair and vice chair Amy Laufer and Leah Puryear (both of whom will remain on the Board). In addition, the Board voted to approve the 2017-18 Academic Calendar, the 2017-18 Program of Studies , and the tuition for the CLASS summer program. The Board also discussed the budget for 2017-18, heard updates about the “Link Crew” mentoring program at CHS, and more.
For details, official minutes, or other reports, visit our electronic schoolboard, accessible via our web site.
STEM education is one of the most talked about elements of K–12 education today. Charlottesville City Schools provides a wide variety of STEM-related opportunities for students beginning in pre-Kindergarten and continuing through high school. These opportunities help CCS students discover and develop their interest in these disciplines.
Throughout the school year, a variety of STEM-related programs enhances the learning possibilities of all students. These include in-school activities like robotics and coding workshops, as well as family nights which enable students and their families to have fun with math and science.
STEM & Math Night at Jackson-Via
Jackson-Via recently held its 2017 Math & STEM evening, where CHS students from the science club BACON (Best All-around Club Of Nerds) came to help run the activities.
Eighth-grader Marco Lopez won the middle-school category of the Charlottesville Public Works’ “Imagine a Day without Water” art contest. Congratulations!
Seventh-graders were able to enjoy a performance “Black Angels Over Tuskegee” at the Paramount Theatre, telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The waiting list is long for Buford students who want to spend their lunch going to neighboring Johnson Elementary to help young friends read. The weekly program is so popular that a once-per-quarter limit has been implemented for Buford students.
Buford students explored a wide variety of futures on career day, with visits from more than 20 professionals ranging from video game programmer, radio talk host, police officer, lawyers, real estate agent, human resource officer, public relations staffer, UVA softball coach, former pro athlete, ACAC fitness trainer, and even a UVA scientist who brought in some human brains! Thanks to all who offered their time.
Buford students celebrated Veterans Day three ways. Civics students attend Veterans’ Day events at the Jefferson School African American History Center. The school held a program with area vets who shared their stories of military service. And the band performed in the celebrations at Highland.
The National Junior Honor Society was able to attend the Charlottesville TedEx program in November, exploring the “Power of One,” which happens to be the Buford group’s theme, as well. How will you be the one to stand up for others?
Walker and Buford students in the schools’ Stage Left Theatre are preparing for their family-friendly winter production of Beauty & the Beast, which has been rescheduled for January 24 at 6:30pm at Walker. Break a leg!
History students in sixth grade enjoyed a colonial market activity. As seen in the photo, Connecticut offered maple syrup, apple cider, and smiles.
Walker teachers prove that it’s not all-work-and-no-play. Prior to the Thanksgiving Break, they offered a staff talent show for students, ranging from music to comedy. Outside, the students showed their own talents by conquering some obstacle course-like challenges set up by the Charlottesville Police Department.
The Walker Peace Squad hit the road to all six Charlottesville elementary schools, presenting their own adaptation of the award-winning picture book One. After their play, Walker students led their elementary friends in a discussion of the book and ways to stand up for kindness in their schools. Continuing the theme of kindness, back at Walker, students and teachers celebrated a wacky, tacky dress-up day to show that it’s wacky to be mean.
Walker School’s annual Bingo Night included some new faces — the school invited future Walker families to join in the fun.
Walker students have been hanging out with U.Va. athletes lately, including tickets to the November 21 women’s basketball game, for which Walker students designed the team’s warm-up gear and participated in half-time activities.
Remember, following winter break (12/19-12/30), there is a teacher workday on Monday, January 2, 2017. Students return to school on Tuesday, January 3.
New this year for winter closing notifications: This year, all families will receive emails and calls at all times (including early morning) unless families customize their settings via PowerSchool. Find instructions here. If you have not yet set up your PowerSchool account, call 245-2943.
The division will be holding a number of events to gather feedback and input for our 2017-2023 Strategic Plan. A community-wide listening session will be held at CHS on Wednesday, January 25 at 7pm — come join us! Or if you wish to participate in a smaller, school-based session on another day, please contact your principal or write email@example.com. Learn more or take a brief survey here.
Five of our teachers were honored at the 2016 Chamber of Commerce dinner, serving as the guests of Bill Kehoe, recipient of the 2016 Chamber Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award. The outstanding teachers honored from Charlottesville City Schools were Michael Keller and Brendan Martin of Buford Middle School, Michel Ann Sizemore of Jackson Via Elementary, and Sarah Gallagher and Rachel Rasnake of Walker Upper Elementary.
In November, the Special Education Advisory Committee hosted a community discussion about how to prepare your child for “Life After High School, Now.”
Across the division, Charlottesville Schools participated in the international Hour of Code, a event designed to expose students to computer programming. Charlottesville Schools has extensive and growing support to help students learn to code.
At its fall conference, the Virginia Board of Education honored Charlottesville City Schools for receiving a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award.
Upcoming events include:
Multi-School (Walker, Buford, CHS) Band Concert, 12/14. Walker beginner band at Walker at 6:30pm; the other Walker, Buford, CHS bands will be at MLKPAC at 7:30pm
Engineering Expo at Buford (for current and future students & families), 12/15, 6pm
Winter Break and Teacher Workday, 12/19 through Monday, 1/2
Classes resume, Tuesday, 1/3
School Board Meeting, 1/5, 5pm, CHS Media Center
Community Budget Presentation, 1/10, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center
No School for Martin Luther King Day, 1/16
End of 2nd Quarter, 1/20
No School for Teacher Workday, 1/23
Stage Left Theater presents Beauty and the Beast, 1/24, 6:30pm, Walker Auditorium
Community Strategic Plan Listening Session (open to all), 1/25, 7pm, CHS
The directors of the orchestras at Charlottesville High School and Walker Upper Elementary School received awards this weekend.
Dr. Polly Sibert of Walker Upper Elementary School received James Madison University’s Outstanding Music Educator Award, awarded annually to an alum who demonstrates excellence in musicianship and pedagogy. Dr. Sibert is teaching her 25th year at Walker School.
Laura Mulligan Thomas, who received the same JMU music educator award in 2013, received the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association’s Philip Fuller award in recognition of her longtime service, leadership, and accomplishments. Over the course of more than three decades, she has grown the CHS orchestra program from a group of 8 students to an award-winning group of 145. Their next international tour will be to Ireland in the summer of 2017.
“We are so proud of these two directors,” noted Aaron Eichorst, Coordinator of Fine Arts for Charlottesville City Schools. “Our students, parents, and staff already recognize the quality of our schools’ music education programs, but these awards show that music professionals across the state recognize the excellence of our faculty, as well.”
Buford engineering students recently made a presentation at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum to teach national leaders from education, technology, science, history, & math about the school’s innovative engineering partnership with U.Va, the Smithsonian, and other partners.
CHS and Buford students explored how businesses use technology in Charlottesville’s annual CBIC Tech Tour.
Buford history students have been doing some hands-on learning about life on the Great Plains, delivering wheat to the market and building a sod house.
Throughout the month of October, the National Junior Honor Society at Buford Middle School, an organization of 8th graders dedicated to community service, is holding a winter hat and glove drive to help the children of Charlottesville. Items may be dropped off in the school’s bins.
Congratulations to Buford students Sohl Park, Pray Meh, and Maya Wilmer, who placed 1-2-3 in the Rumi Forum’s Annual Peace and Dialog Art Contest.
Ready for fall foliage? Walker art students beat nature to the punch by creating beautiful leaf-inspired art.
U.S. Secretary of Education John King visited Buford Middle School as one of the first stops on his Back-to-School Bus Tour, crossing the country to highlight school success stories. Past and current Buford engineering students led the visitors in engineering activities. The Buford engineering program has received international attention; it is a partnership with other area public schools, U.Va., PVCC, and the Smithsonian Institute. Earlier in the summer, Buford staff and students presented at the International Society of Technology Education in Denver, and still other students and staff participated in a two-week engineering academy at U.Va. to continue developing the “invention kits” that are at the heart of the curriculum.
The Buford Band greeted Sec. King with Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and earned a shout-out in the Washington Post. What other middle school band can handle a Sousa march three weeks into the school year?!
A before-school gathering of students and families participating in AVID came to Buford to get the year off to a good start. AVID is a national program geared toward college readiness and closing the achievement gap. AVID students also participated in Sec. King’s visit by writing thoughtful responses to the prompt, “Opportunity is….”
Eleven Buford and Walker students were accepted to Reflections, the Summer Regional Governor’s School Program for Middle School Students Gifted in the Visual Arts: Arianna Deiter, Belaynesh Downs-Reeve, Meg Gist, Eleanor Hilgart, Chu Keyer, Nora Liang, Anna Meyer, Emily Morris, Kyle O’Shea, Sohl Park, Yasu Shinozak, and Georgia Trainum. In addition, CHS 9th-grader Sahara Clemons was selected as one of two student assistants for the program.
Walker students are already celebrating the fine arts — on back-to-back days, sixth-graders attended the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, and fifth-graders enjoyed performances by Rwandan dancers and musicians (see elementary news for more details).
The new iSTEM program designed to build a bridge to the Buford engineering program “blasted off” with straw-powered rockets in Walker’s Delta Lab. Through the activity, students explored force, distance, mean, and measurement.
Walker will host its second Mix-It-Up-at-Lunch event with the help of United Way volunteers on the Day of Caring. The program features events like get-to-know-you Bingo to help students meet new friends and acquaintances.
To reinforce some positive behavior routines, Walker hosted a Jeopardy! game featuring Alec Trebec (Mr. K) and Vanna White (Mrs. Geddy). Students had a fun time answering questions related to Walker’s resources and behavioral expectations.